<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:11:13 -0800 Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:11:13 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Protesters Storm Onto I-15, Arrests Made]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:22:24 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SD+protest+on+freeway+8.JPG

Two separate protests sent hundreds of people onto the streets and onto a freeway of San Diego Tuesday night, leading to arrests the evening after a grand jury decided not to indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of black teen Michael Brown.

Traffic came to a halt as crowds set out from the City Heights Performance Annex to march around the San Diego Police Department’s Mid City division. They chanted "Hands up, don't shoot," the phrase that has come to represent all rallies held in Brown's honor.

"It's showing community participation within this context of showing outrage against violence against people of color," said protester Chase Fite.

About an hour an a half in, protesters marched onto Interstate 15 at University Avenue, forcing California Highway Patrol to issue a Sig Alert. Police and CHP quickly herded the crowd back onto surface streets, but off- and on-ramps to University Ave. were closed.

Police soon formed a blockade about 35 officers-wide, systematically pushing people back in an effort to regain control of the area.

SDPD says some arrests have been made from the group that went onto the interstate, but they did not release details about what those charges were.

One man in a camouflage shirt was seen being hauled away by officers, who were carrying him by his arms and legs.

At their meeting place, organizers from the local United Against Police Terror group covered the sign for the Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park with a banner that made it read “Michael Brown Memorial Park.” Henwood was an SDPD officer who was gunned down in City Heights while on duty in 2011.

The SDPD told NBC 7 the protest was supposed to be confined to the park, which sits near the Mid City police division, but excitement sparked other plans.

Still, many San Diegans in the crowd advocated for peace across the nation.

"Hold on babies. Don't tear up your place. We're behind you. The world is behind you," one person told NBC 7.

A second protest originated at the Federal Building, where people listened to speeches before weaving their way through downtown streets.

Chanting "Peace through revolution. Touch one, touch all," the demonstrators held signs that read "No justice, no peace" and "Jail the killer cop." 

At San Diego State University Tuesday, students also stood in solidarity with the Ferguson protesters. Some held their arms in a "hands up" position.

The local activists’ movements are similar dozens of demonstrations across the country that have now entered their second day — though San Diego’s protests have been far more peaceful.

In Ferguson itself, Gov. Jay Nixon has called in over 2,200 National Guardsmen after rioting, looting and fires broke out when the grand jury’s decision was initially announced. The Associated Press reports 61 people were arrested in the St. Louis suburb Monday night.

More than 200 protesters gathered in Lost Angeles Tuesday afternoon, forcing road closures. The night before, marches had briefly stopped traffic on Interstate 10.

In Oakland, 40 people were arrested for a variety of crimes Monday night, and more protests are expected.

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<![CDATA[Landscaper Dies While Trimming Tree]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:48:12 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tree+rescue+sdfd.JPG

A landscaper has died while trimming a palm tree in downtown San Diego.

San Diego Fire-Rescue crews got word Tuesday afternoon that an unconscious man was stuck about 50 feet above the ground in the 1000 block of 14th Street.

Firefighters say the man was trapped by the weight of several palm branches he had just cut, which caused him to pass out while still harnessed to the tree.

Because the man was so high up, rescuers had to climb a fire engine ladder to reach him and cut the palms away one by one.

When they lowered his body about 20 minutes later, he was unresponsive and soon died, despite CPR efforts. 

Investigators did not name the company that the man works for but said they were contracted by the building's owner and appear to be operating within state regulations.

Check back here for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: SDFD]]>
<![CDATA[Ferguson Protests Continue Across the Nation for 2nd Day]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 04:57:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/459584294.jpg

Heated protests continued for a second night in response to a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict the cop who fatally shot Michael Brown, with violence and arrests reported across the nation.

Police ordered protesters and media off Ferguson streets after largely peaceful demonstrations turned violent Tuesday evening when a police car was set on fire. Earlier in the evening, demonstrators swarmed the steps of the federal courthouse in St. Louis chanting, "You didn't indict! We shall fight!", The Associated Press reported.

At a news conference early Wednesday, St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar said 44 people were arrested, but added that "it was a much better night."

In New York City, police said 10 people were arrested as protesters gridlocked major streets, highways and bridges. Protesters blocked access to the Manhattan side of the Lincoln Tunnel, one of the city's major transit arteries, during rush hour Tuesday evening.

More than 500 protesters marched up Broadway and gathered peacefully in Times Square. They chanted "Hands up, don't shoot" and carried signs reading "We will not be silent." Around 200 protesters also gathered peacefully in nearby Newark, New Jersey.

In Philadelphia, demonstrators were already taking place at noon on Tuesday, with a group holding signs that read "Outraged! Where is Our Justice?" and "Don't Shop Black Friday." A group of about 500 later held a rally at Temple University and protested outside of a police headquarters, demanding that officers wear body cameras. 

Hundreds of activists in Chicago marched through Downtown after police ordered protesters to leave Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, where they had been participating in a planned 28-hour sit-in. The group called on Emanuel to change what they said was a culture of racism within the Chicago Police Department.

Two people were arrested at a small protest outside the Miami-Dade Metro Justice building Tuesday, police said. A Miami jury deliberating the fate of a woman accused of killing her husband's business partner was dismissed early in anticipation of a protest at the Miami courthouse.

In Los Angeles, a few hundred protesters took to the streets, engaging police in a standoff at a freeway off-ramp and surrounding a Highway Patrol car in a tense scene in South Los Angeles. Police Chief Charlie Beck said earlier Tuesday that only three arrests were made in protests across LA on Monday.

"I know that this isn't over," Beck said. "This is a wound of the nation that will not heal immediately."

One of the largest protests nationwide was in Boston, where an estimated 1,400 protesters gathered near the Massachusetts Avenue Connector, NBC News reported. Police blocked a ramp leading to I-93 to prevent protesters from going on the highway. The demonstrations in Boston were peaceful overall, however, at 11:30 p.m. approximately 36 arrests had been made, police said. In nearby Providence, Rhode Island, hundreds of protesters sat down on both lanes of I-95, blocking traffic.

In Oakland, Calif., a small group of protesters briefly shut down Interstate 980, but police officers were able to redirect them back onto city streets on a second night of protests. Police arrested 40 people on Monday night following the grand jury's decision.

A car plowed through protesters in Minneapolis Tuesday afternoon, injuring one demonstrator, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. Moments after the demonstrator was struck, a group of demonstrators jumped on the hood of the vehicle while others tried to free the demonstrator. Minneapolis Police Department said they were continuing to investigate. 

The announcement that the Missouri grand jury had brought no charge against Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 killing of 18-year-old Brown sparked rioting in Ferguson and some unruly protests elsewhere Monday night.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vowed that the violence would not be repeated, adding that the National Guard presence would be "ramped up significantly."

"Last night criminals intent on lawlessness and destruction terrorized this community, burning buildings, firing gunshots, vandalizing storefronts and looting family businesses, many for the second time," he said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference in Ferguson. "I am deeply saddened for the people of Ferguson who woke up this morning to see parts of their community in ruins."

Protesters had hurled bottles at officers near police headquarters, and flames engulfed at least a dozen businesses. St. Louis County police deployed tactical units and fired tear gas and smoke to break up the crowds. At least 150 gunshots were fired and a semi-automatic handgun was seized, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference early Tuesday. 

Sixty-one people were arrested in Ferguson on charges that included burglary and trespassing, according to The Associated Press. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said early Tuesday that 21 were arrested in the city.

"I'm disappointed I didn't see more peaceful protests out there," Belmar said. "What I've seen tonight is probably worse than the worst night we had in August."

Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that he had briefed the president in the Oval Office about the violence. He said they talked about the need to bring people together.

"This is a difficult time for people in Ferguson," Holder said. "It's a difficult time for people in our country. I think this is an opportunity for us to find those things that bind us as a nation, to be honest with one another about those things that continue to divide us and to come up with ways in which we make this union even more perfect."

Across the country, reactions ranged from marches that threatened to shut down busy streets to gatherings near national landmarks. Most remained peaceful, officials said.

In California, large crowds marched through the streets of Oakland and Los Angeles. Demonstrators shut down Interstate 580 and the USC campus was placed on lockdown as demonstrators marched by.

Angry protesters took to the streets of Philadelphia after the announcement, chanting "No Justice. No Peace. No Racist Police," and holding both arms in the air. Albeit loud in voice, they remained peaceful in actions as police trailed their march.

A man was arrested after hurling fake blood on NYPD Chief Bill Bratton in New York's Times Square during a demonstration. Hundreds marched from Union Square to Upper Manhattan through traffic-clogged streets, with signs such as "Jail killer cops."

At the Chicago police department's headquarters, several hundred people chanted "This is what democracy looks like," and carried photographs of those they said were killed by officers.

Outside the White House, roughly 300 gathered for a peaceful demonstration, chanting "black lives matter." Some carried signs urging the demilitarization of police.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[17-Year-Old Diagnosed with Meningococcal Disease]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:27:12 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san+ysidro+high+school.jpg

A San Ysidro High School student has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease, according to the to San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA.)

The 17-year-old boy was admitted to the hospital Saturday and is recovering, health officials said.

The teen may have exposed others to the potentially deadly disease between Nov. 14 and Nov. 21. Family members and others who were in close contact with the boy have been notified, according to HHSA. Those individuals can receive antibiotics to prevent infection.

Meningococcal disease is spread through close contact – like sharing cups or kissing – but not through casual contact, according to County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H.

"Therefore, the risk to those who were not in close, direct contact is minimal,” Wooten said in a news release.” She does not recommend preventive antibiotics for people who did not have close contact with the patient and are not showing symptoms.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease include fever, intense headache, lethargy, stiff neck and rash. Symptoms will appear between two and 10 days after exposure.

Eight cases of meningococcal disease have been reported in San Diego County this year, according to health officials. Over the last five years, there has been an average of 10 cases a year in the county.

In October, San Diego State University freshman Sara Stelzer, 18, died after contracting Neisseria meningitidis, the same bacteria detected in the latest case.

Patrick Henry High School student Jewelean Pimentel, 14, also died in February from meningococcal disease.

A vaccine that prevents certain strains of the disease is recommended for children 11 to 18. Health officials advice students who received their first dose before age 15 should get a booster before going to college.

<![CDATA[SDSU Students Protest Ferguson Decision]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:43:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDSUFergusonphoto-4.jpg

The San Diego State University campus may be thousands of miles from Ferguson, Missouri but students wanted to stand in solidarity with those protesting a grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.

Approximately 60 students walked in a circle and chanted just after noon. Some held their hands in the “Hands up” position that has become synonymous with the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager.

Others carried signs demanding action.

The scene was far from the violent and destructive response on the ground in Ferguson and not nearly the size or scale of those in New York City or Seattle.

Protesters in the Los Angeles area staged a sit-in Monday night on the world famous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

In Oakland an estimated 1,000 protesters staged a "die-in" before a large group moved the protest onto a nearby highway.

This was after St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the grand jury composed of 12 people determined there was no probable cause to charge Wilson after reviewing hours of witness accounts and law enforcement interviews and examining evidence in the case for the past three months.

On Tuesday, attorney Benjamin Crump and the Rev. Al Sharpton appeared with Michael Brown's father as they disputed the grand jury's findings and pointed to a federal investigation that was ongoing.

“This process is broken. The process should be indicted," Crump said referring to the legal proceedings in Missouri.


Photo Credit: Sherene Tagharobi]]>
<![CDATA[Leaders Ask for Answers in Teacher's Aide Drug Case]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:28:24 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/garrett+anthony+clifton.jpg

Two members of San Diego's congressional delegation sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, urging the agency to implement new rules after an NBC7 Investigates series about a teacher's aide border arrest.

Garrett Anthony Clifton, a San Diego Unified special education aide, continued working in the classroom nearly a year after he was arrested at the border with more than $500,000 worth of cocaine and methamphetamine in his possession.

NBC 7 Investigates learned there were no federal laws mandating school notifications of federal arrests. In Clifton's case, the federal government never notified the school district of the charges against him.

The former teacher's aide was sentenced to 37 months on Oct. 10, after telling the federal court he thought the drugs in his car were just marijuana. Before that, he attended nearly a dozen court appearances, and he pleaded guilty to importation of meth and cocaine on July 25, all while maintaining employment with the San Diego Unified School District.

Read more about the story here. Clifton could not be reached for comment about this latest update.

U.S. Reps. Scott Peters and Susan Davis, in a letter dated Nov. 25, asked Secretary Johnson whether the Department of Homeland Security, in failing to notify the school district, was following its own internal procedures after the arrest of an educator for drug, sexual or violent crimes.

"We strongy urge the Department of Homeland Security to implement reciprocal rules compelling law enforcement agents to comply with state laws designed to protect children from sexual and narcotic criminals," their letter states. "We also call on the Department of Homeland Security to implement rules and regulations directing DHS law enforcement agents to notify school districts and other childcare facilities when their employees have been arrested and convicted of crimes that may endanger children."

The Department of Homeland Security could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but in response to the original story sent the following statement:

“In criminal cases where a defendant is found to have regular contact with children, a variety of factors impact Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) decision as to whether notification of the subject’s employer or other associated parties is warranted or appropriate. Factors include: is there evidence the defendant has previously harmed children; are there indications the defendant is engaged in ongoing abuse of children; and finally, does the subject appear to pose an imminent threat to the safety of the children with whom he or she interacts. HSI is reviewing the matter to determine if appropriate procedures were followed."

Read the letter from Peters and Davis here.

Davis is still exploring legislative options.

"We understand that a legislative fix is possible," said her press secretary.

<![CDATA[Ricochet Surfs Into La Jolla for Book Drive]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:41:12 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Santa+Paws+3.jpg

Santa and his friend the elf came to town early this year, at least for La Jolla residents.

On Tuesday, San Diego Surf Dog Ricochet and an 8-year-old autistic boy surfed in to La Jolla Shores to kick off the sixth annual “Surfin’ Santa Paws, Howliday Book Drive.” The fundraiser aims to promote reading and prevent suicide among bullied teenagers and veterans with PTSD through distributing Ricochet’s book.

"We are probably never going to stop bullying, but we can certainly build confidence in kids so they don't believe what the bullies say," said Judy Fridono, Ricochet’s guardian and the founder of Puppy Prodigies.

Ricochet rode the waves with West, an autistic boy who has been bullied in the past and was the inspiration for the book drive. The event promoted the surf pup’s book, “Ricochet: Riding a Wave of Hope With the Dog Who Inspires Millions."

Ricochet will be collecting cash donations to give to children and schools, as well as collecting copies of the book itself until Jan. 2.

A portion of book sales will be donated to Shelter to Soldier, a San Diego based non-profit organization that rescues shelter dogs and trains them to be service dogs for veterans with PTSD.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA["Hoarder" Dies After Cluttered Home Catches Fire]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 01:13:24 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/carlsbad+fatal+house+fire.JPG

A SoCal woman whose cluttered home caught fire Tuesday evening has died.

The flames sparked at a condominium complex in the 2300 block of Caringa Way in Carlsbad, California, just before 8 p.m., forcing residents next door to run from their home.

Firefighters say clutter blocked their entrance into the home and, once inside, made it difficult for them to maneuver.

The woman in her late 70s was found unresponsive on the first floor. 

Despite efforts to save her, she was pronounced dead at the home.

Neighbor Arlene Cooperson told NBC 7 she warned the victim to clean her home or bear the consequences.

"She's a hoarder," she said. "Things have to be done; they can't avoid them."

The 2-alarm fire damaged four of the adjoining units. Firefighters say the residents won't be allowed to return until Wednesday, and the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

<![CDATA[San Diegans Protest on Streets, Freeway]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:39:55 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SD+protest+on+freeway+3+.JPG Two separate protests against the Ferguson grand jury decision sent hundreds of people onto the streets and onto a freeway of San Diego Tuesday night. ]]> <![CDATA[Bronze Stars, Navy Cross Awarded for Bravery in Afghanistan]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:48:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Justin+Wilson+navy+cross.JPG

An emotional ceremony at Camp Pendleton awarded a Navy corpsman with the Navy Cross and two killed Marines with the Bronze Star for their brave actions in Afghanistan.

In September 2011, the service members were serving overseas in the First Marine Special Operations Battalion when their courage was tested.

They were clearing an Afghan police checkpoint when not one, but two improvised explosive devices went off.

After suffering injuries to his chest and face, Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Wilson reacted without regard for his own personal safety to treat those injured.

He moved one of his wounded teammates out of the kill zone and gave him aid until he died.

Wilson also found two other Marines killed in action before he finally allowed other members of the patrol to treat his injuries.

For those brave actions, Wilson received the Navy Cross Tuesday.

“I only saw one thing in their eyes: it's courage. The love of a brother and the desire bring him home,” said Wilson during the ceremony.

Camp Pendleton officials also presented two posthumous Bronze Stars to the families of Staff Sgts. Christopher Diaz and Nicholas Sprovtsoff.

When the IED that injured Wilson exploded, they selflessly put themselves between their team and the explosive to safe their fellow service members.

Diaz’ son Jeremy and his father Salvador Diaz Jr. accepted the medal in his honor at the ceremony.

“Three young men brave men lost their lives. They went to God; they went to fulfill their duties up in heaven to watch over us,” said Salvador.

<![CDATA[Black Friday 101: Mall Hours and Parking Tips]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:53:30 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/6558-000166.jpg

Before you can shop ‘til you drop on Black Friday, you have to find a parking spot.

In San Diego, that’s no small task, so it helps to have a strategy.

Chris Lane, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Fashion Valley, says the best times to find parking are from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Lane recommends using mall entrances other than the main entrance. For Fashion Valley, that includes the JCPenney entrance off Fashion Valley Road and the back entrance from Camino de la Reina. Both avoid traffic backup on Friars Road.

After entering the mall, Lane suggests starting with the A, B, and C parking garages behind Macy’s.

“Check the lower levels of the parking structures, as they may have more spots available and have easier in and out access,” he said, adding that valet parking is also available.

Another way to avoid the hassle is to use public transit. All MTS buses and trolleys will run on their normal schedules Friday, with the exception of the Rapid bus. Some malls have their own designated trolley stops, but all are accessible by public transit. (Click here for a complete list of bus and trolley service to San Diego shopping centers.)

If you do venture out by car, the International Parking Institute offers the following parking lot tips:

1. Exercise caution when backing out. Twenty-five percent of parking lot accidents are caused by backing moves.

2. Obey the law.

3. Keep your headlights on (even in the daytime.)

4. Park further away from the building for less hassle.

5. Follow etiquette basics. When waiting for a spot, do not block other parking space seekers. Also, remember to return shopping carts to designated cart corral areas.

6. Be a mindful pedestrian. Don’t text while walking or jaywalk.

7. Watch for small children.

8. Buckle up and be patient. Even low speed collisions can result in injuries. Resist the temptation to honk the horn

9. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Park in well-lit areas and always make sure you've rolled up your car windows and locked your doors. Have your keys out and ready when returning to your car.

10. Set an alarm if you’re parked in a metered spot.


Friday Mall Hours (Department stores may operate on different hours.)

Westfield Camino Real (Carlsbad): 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Carlsbad Premium Outlets: 12 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Westfield North County (Escondido): 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Westfield UTC (La Jolla): 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Fashion Valley (Mission Valley) : 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Westfield Mission Valley: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Parkway Plaza (El Cajon): 12 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Grossmont Center (La Mesa): 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Westfield Horton Plaza (downtown): 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Westfield Plaza Bonita (National City): 12 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Chula Vista Center: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Otay Ranch Town Center (Chula Vista): 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Las Americas Premium Outlets (San Ysidro): 12 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New FDA Rules Require Calorie Counts]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:24:36 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/salmon+food+restaurant.jpg

Nick Streeper doesn't spend much time looking at the calorie numbers on the menu.

Does it influence what he orders? "I think my wife would care, I don't. Personally it does not influence my decision at all," said Streeper.

Now the calorie numbers are going to be even more obvious as the FDA announced new government rules requiring chain restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores to display calorie content of food on their menus.

"Sometimes this really does change behavior and sometimes people ignore it," said Anita Jones-Mueller with HealthyDiningFinder.com.

She said besides calories, those impacted by the rules will also have to offer additional information like sodium, fats, sugar and more upon request.

"I think it is definitely one step in helping people find the healthier choices for them," said Jones-Mueller.

California and some other states have already had calorie posting rules in place, but these federal guidelines go even further. Movie theaters, amusement parks and vending machines will have to post the information "clearly and conspicuously."

However there are exceptions; food and ice cream trucks won't have to offer calorie information, and neither will food on an airplane.

Griselda Arellano said she'll notice the calories but it may not change her mind.

"If it's something that I'm already set on, then it's not going to matter," said Arellano, "but if I'm trying to stay within a certain calorie count, I'll notice and I'll order that."

The new regulations will apply to businesses with 20 or more locations, and they will be given until November 2015 to comply.

Photo Credit: Consumer Bob]]>
<![CDATA[Moves Underway to Bankroll Convention Center Project]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:23:16 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/San+Diego+Convention+Center1.JPG

The clock may be ticking on a new funding scheme to expand San Diego's Convention Center.

In August, state appeal court justices ruled against room-tax surcharges passed by city hotel owners in a controversial private election, saying that the levies should have been put on the ballot.

Now, with rumblings of imminent NFL plans to put two teams in L.A. -- and the Chargers touting a hybridized stadium-convention facility in East Village — delaying a decision on the expansion project for long could have major downsides

Meantime, NBC 7 has learned that behind the scenes, there's been extensive lobbying and maneuvering to come up with alternatives.

The $520 million project’s upfront cost was set to be underwritten in large part by the room-tax surcharges, with additional funding from the city and Port District.

The Convention Center recently observed its 25th anniversary, and it's beginning to show its age and the effects of $30 million worth of deferred maintenance.

Officials say it's essential to expand the center to keep Comic-Con, its prime tenant, and attract a greater share of the large-meeting market in competition with other cities.

The attorney for plaintiffs who prevailed in the lawsuit said they've told "the city" they want the expansion to take place north of Harbor Drive instead of on the waterfront, that they’re opposed to "corporate welfare" and that they believe that any form of tax funding should go to the ballot.

"After the appellate ruling,” attorney Cory Briggs told NBC 7 in an interview Tuesday, “we shared some ideas for alternatives, five different alternatives that are dependent on going across the street that wouldn't involve the level of corporate subsidies that you're talking about here.

"The city was completely dismissive of those ideas under the prior mayor. I think Mayor Faulconer, he's at least shown to me that he's willing to listen to other ideas and actually spend some time and resources vetting them somewhat."

A spokesman for the mayor's office confirms that discussions have taken place with Briggs and numerous other "stakeholders” — although there’s no memory of five specific alternatives — and that "all options are on the table," including the bay front expansion proposal.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said he buys the ballot approach: "It is case law and it's sound case law. Let's move on from that and not test the boundaries of the law any more. Let's go with the most legally supportable — and I agree that ought to be voter approval. This is, after all, a tax."

Goldsmith apparently hasn't been privy to the talks going on behind-the-scenes.

In an interview Tuesday with NBC 7, he said he thinks whatever Cory Briggs and the mayor's office have been talking about should be made public, in the interest of "transparency and open government."

As for the notion that voters and other financiers could be swayed by the Chargers’ concept of extra convention space within a stadium footprint, a leading local taxpayer advocate is skeptical.

"If the idea of a downtown stadium is the tail that wags the dog in whatever circuitous route they get to it, that's not something voters want,” said Richard Rider, chairman of San Diego Tax Fighters.

“They don't want to go downtown. They like the stadium where it is. We can argue about rebuilding it, renewing it, improving it. But nobody wants a stadium downtown except the downtown establishment."

<![CDATA[E-Cigarettes May Be Giving You Malware]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:03:13 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/E+Cigarette+486477989.jpg

E-cigarette users charging up through a USB port on a computer may want to be more cautious about plugging in.

The devices may be responsible for harming your computer when plugged in to charge, at least according to one report on the social news site Reddit.

One Reddit user said an executive at a large corporation had a malware infection on his computer from which the source could not be determined. The executive’s system in question was up to date with virus protection, so people helping him asked about change in habits.

“And that was the answer they were looking for, the made in china e-cigarette had malware hard coded into the charger and when plugged into a computer’s USB port the malware phoned home and infected the system,” he wrote.

The technology to transmit viruses and malware through a USB port exists, according to research done by the Security Research Labs firm in Germany, a security research firm and consulting think tank that released the code.

E-cigarettes are usually charged using a USB connection, whether that be with a special cable or by plugging the device directly into the computer.

“Ultimately any USB device that you can plug in can be reprogrammed to do malicious things to your computer,” Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, a cyber threat research firm, told the Washington Post.

Because a variety of devices plug into the same connector, one type of device could become malicious without the user noticing once reprogrammed, RSlabs said.

“Once infected, computers and their USB peripherals can never be trusted again,” the study said.

E-cigarette users may want to think twice about purchasing their cheap e-cigarettes from untrustworthy suppliers online.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Using Walker Hit by Truck]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:49:04 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pedestrian+vs+car+chula+vista.JPG

A woman in her 50s, using a walker to cross the road, was hit by a truck in Chula Vista Tuesday.

The pedestrian was crossing G Street at 2nd Avenue just before 4 p.m. when a black Dodge truck hit her while turning onto G Street.

Chula Vista police say the woman suffered a serious head injury and was bleeding from the ears before she was taken away by paramedics.

The driver stayed at the scene to answer questions. Investigators do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.

Photo Credit: Steven Luke]]>
<![CDATA[Salvation Army in El Cajon Looking For Donations ]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 08:39:09 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/199*120/salvation.png

Residents with a little extra food to spare this holiday season could help one of more than 500 families in need in El Cajon.

The Salvation Army in El Cajon is looking for canned and boxed foods and frozen turkeys during their Thanksgiving drive-thru food drive Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m.

People can donate a frozen turkey or fixings, black olives, bread crumbs, bread cubes, brown sugar, cans of pumpkin, veggie and chicken broth, cornbread mix, cream of mushroom soup, cranberry sauce, green beans and more – including a cash donation if you happen to be passing by without any food in your car.

Terry Masango of The Salvation Army said the families in need are local families struggling to make ends meet. They are looking to help get a Thanksgiving meal on their tables in the holiday spirit of giving.

Readers that want to donate can drop by the El Cajon location at 1011 East Man St. up until 12 p.m. or call The Salvation Army in El Cajon at (619) 440-4683.

<![CDATA[Pregnant Mom, Daughter Have Same Due Date]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:55:27 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mother+daughter+pregnant.jpg

From heartburn to mood swings, you may experience the pitfalls of pregnancy with your sister or your best friend.

But if you’re 20-year-old Aurora Doorly of Chula Vista, you do this with your mom.

Not only is her mother – Vanessa Doorly, 36 – also pregnant, the mother-daughter duo are due on the same day: Dec. 15, 2014.

“I’m having her sister, and that’s my grandson,” said Vanessa, who described being pregnant with her daughter as “fabulous.”

Aurora, on the other hand, has taken time to warm up to the idea.

“Just to know my mom’s having a baby at the same time, it’s weird, but we’ll do it,” she said.

When Vanessa discovered she had the same due date as her daughter, she said she was stunned, excited and scared to tell Aurora.

“I didn’t want to steal her thunder,” she explained.

Aurora eventually came around, even participating in a dual baby shower.

“After a couple nights of thinking about it, I felt better because I knew she was feeling the same thing I was feeling and I would have someone there who could tell me what’s going on,” Aurora said.

Even in pregnancy, Vanessa is still very much Aurora’s mom, doling out advice and support.

“She calls and tells me, ‘mom, I’m feeling this. Are you feeling that?’ I’m like, ‘yes, I am. It’s normal. Don’t worry,’” Vanessa said.

As their nine-month journey together comes to an end, hospital bags are being packed at both Vanessa’s house and Aurora’s house. The two plan to deliver at the same hospital.

“Hopefully we’ll get the same room. But if we don’t, (family members) will just have to run through the hallway to each room, not to different hospitals,” Vanessa said.

“I would love to be right next to her while we’re both having the babies,” she added.

Vanessa and Aurora agree this experience has brought them closer, and they hope the babies will have the same unique bond, even if the little girl is the little boy’s aunt. (Think “Father of the Bride Part II.”)

The kids will be spending a lot of time together.

“My mom’s going to be going back to work full-time, so I’ll be taking care of my sister and my son at the same time,” Aurora said.

This is Aurora’s first child. It will be the third for Vanessa and Aurora’s father, who also have a 14-year-old daughter.

Earlier this month, a mother and daughter in Florida gave birth at the same hospital less than three hours apart.

Photo Credit: NBC 7
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<![CDATA[Brush Fire Prompts Sig Alert in North County]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:54:37 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/fire+truck+generic.jpg

A brush fire in the San Onofre area impacted traffic coming into San Diego County Tuesday afternoon.

The fire started burning around 12:30 p.m. along southbound Interstate 5, just past the scales.

Firefighters from Camp Pendleton extinguished the fire by 1:30 p.m., officials told NBC 7. Crews are still on the scene watching for flareups.

Firefighters blocked the far right lane of I-5 South during the brush fire, prompting the California Highway Patrol to issue a Sig Alert in the area.

No injuries were reported. Fire officials have not released the cause of the fire.

A Red Flag Warning remains in effect for San Diego County until 6 p.m. Wednesday, meaning conditions are favorable for wildfires. Overnight, a fire fueled by strong winds burned five acres in Julian. 

<![CDATA[San Diego Chargers Host Blood Drive]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:20:28 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/chargers7.jpg

Chargers fans came out in the spirit of giving Tuesday to donate blood and meet their favorite players.

The San Diego Blood Bank said the holiday season can be especially difficult for them as people tend to donate less blood.

This Chargers-sponsored drive, now in its 36th year, helps the blood bank out during a crucial season.

During that time, more than 73,000 pints of blood have been donated to 219,000 patients in the San Diego area.

People who give blood can meet their favorite Chargers players, take advantage of free bone marrow registry testing and enjoy a wellness zone where people can get their blood pressure and body fat tested. .

The drive runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Town and Country Convention Center in Mission Valley. 

<![CDATA[Julian Fire Could've Been as Big as Cedar Fire: Cal Fire]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:46:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Julian-Fire-Pic-112514_3.jpg

The conditions in the East County were so windy and dry, firefighters said a small overnight fire could have easily grown to the size of the most destructive fire in state history.

“It could’ve been a big fire, as big as the Cedar Fire,” said Cal Fire Capt. John Fiehler. 

Most San Diegans will never forget the 2003 fire that destroyed more than 2200 homes and killed 14 people.

The fire that had the potential to grow to such a serious threat according to Fiehler was a wind-driven fire that broke out Monday night north of Julian, in the foothills east of downtown San Diego.

Those fires are what firefighters fear in red flag conditions.

Cal Fire crews cut down brush and used shovels to keep flames from a five-acre fire from spreading along Julian Orchards Drive, north of downtown Julian.

The fire was first reported just after 11 p.m. east of the Menghini Winery, north of State Route 78.

Strong winds kicked up embers as crews worked to get a handle on it.

“We were chasing the fire to the north,” Fiehler said.

He explains that Cal Fire crews eventually spread out and tackled spot fires that sparked as far away as a quarter of a mile in the strong winds.

There were estimates of gusts from 30 mph to above 60 mph in parts of the East County overnight.

"When these winds come up, the winds control where the fire’s going and the direction of the fire," said Cal Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser.

Eleven engines, four hand crews and bulldozers contained the fire and kept it from damaging any homes and businesses.

"It’s important that we put a lot of equipment on these and jump on them quick to keep them small," Bortisser

Fire crews won't be letting up until they know any hot spots are extinguished.

The fire's point of origin was traced to just outside a trailer on top of the hill, officials said. Investigators have the area blocked off and are looking into who owns the trailer.

An online tool provided by the U.S. Forest Service, SDG&E and UCLA suggests the risk of a wildfire from this Santa Ana wind event will be moderate on Tuesday meaning upon ignition, fires will grow rapidly and will be difficult to control.

The Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index, a classification system that analyzes the fire threat potential of the powerful Santa Ana winds, was rolled out in September to help homeowners and fire officials prepare.

Photo Credit: NBC 7
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: What Happened Overnight in Ferguson]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 06:55:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Ferguson-Overnight-1125.jpg Catch up on what happened overnight in Ferguson, Missouri following the grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. ]]> <![CDATA[Chargers Place Center Ohrnberger on Injured Reserve]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:43:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+raiders+nfl+qualcomm+4.jpg

Is anybody healthy enough to snap the ball around here?

The Chargers once again placed a center on injured reserve, as Rich Ohrnberger will miss the rest of the season with a back injury that might need surgery. That’s the third time this season they’ve had to put someone from that position on the season-ending list.

For Ohrnberger, it ends an otherwise productive season in which he played in eight games, starting seven.

For the Bolts, the position has been a question mark for most of the season. Veteran offensive co-captain Nick Hardwick was supposed to be the rock to solidify the offensive line. But he left the first game of the season with a neck injury that ended his season – and perhaps the career of the 33-year-old.

Then it was Doug Legursky, who went down with a knee injury after Week 5.

Now it’s up to Chris Watt – for now – to fill the role. He started in Sunday’s win over the St. Louis Rams, earning praise from Chargers coach Mike McCoy.

“The way the offensive line played, it gave (running back) Ryan (Mathews) and the rest of the backs the opportunity to make the plays that they did running the football,” McCoy said. “They did an outstanding job with one of the best pass rushers in the league.”

He was referring to Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, who finished second in the league with 19 sacks last year, but was held in check on Sunday.

Linebacker Cordaro Law was called up from the practice squad, making his second appearance on the active roster. He played with the team for three games starting in Week 4, recording seven tackles and one sack.

Undrafted rookie guard Craig Watts may also get his first crack at the active roster if the Bolts see a need to bolster the offensive line.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Injured While Waiting for Food Bank Dies]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:15:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Car-Plow-Food-Bank-Line-111.jpg

One of the women hit by a car while waiting in an El Cajon food bank line has died.

Theresa Nasser, 74, was among about 230 people standing outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Madison Street on Nov. 18 when Ridhab Abed, 42, began to pull her Volkswagen Jetta out of the parking lot.

After backing out, Abed put her car in drive and somehow lost control, El Cajon police say, colliding with a parked Ford SUV. Her vehicle continued across the parking lot and slammed into three women standing next to a cement wall.

Nasser and a 33-year-old woman were pinned between the car and the wall.

Paramedics took the two women to the hospital for serious injuries to their lower bodies. A third woman, who is 60 years old, was treated at the scene, and Abed and her 62-year-old female passenger were taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

On Saturday, Nasser died from the crash, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office.

The driver has not been cited for the accident, police say, but investigators are still examining evidence and speaking to witnesses.

Food bank volunteers told NBC 7 a person directs traffic coming in and out of their parking lot, but after the crash, they will be re-evaluating their system for next month’s distribution. The church’s food bank is opened the third Tuesday of every month.

<![CDATA[Wrongfully Convicted Inmate Released After 36 Years]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 07:22:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/11-24-14-michael-hanline-wrongful-conviction.JPG

Moving slowly assisted by a cane, a white-haired and weary Michael Hanline saw the outside of a Los Angeles-area prison cell for the first time in more than three decades Monday.

Hanline ambled his way to freedom after spending 36 years behind bars for a murder he was wrongly convicted of before his release Monday, reuniting with his wife and family.

"There's no words for it," he said. "I have emotions just charging through me."

Hanline posted $2,500 bail Monday afternoon, following a morning hearing where a judge ordered that his movements will still be monitored electronically.

Prosecutors said they are no longer sure whether Hanline, now 68, killed Ventura resident J.T. McGarry in 1978.

Hanline’s was the longest wrongful incarceration in the state’s history.

He was convicted in 1980, after prosecutors argued that he was jealous of McGarry because the two were romantically involved with the same woman, according to the California Innocence Project website.

"I've always believed in his innocence," said his wife, Sandee. "I'm just happy it's done. I just want to go home."

The California Innocence Project, which dedicates legal services to helping release wrongfully convicted inmates, took up Hanline’s case in 1999 and has been working to prove his innocence ever since, said Alex Simpson, attorney for the case and associate director of the San Diego-based organization.

"The case really rested on two pieces of evidence. There were documents that had never been handed over to the defense which showed other people had knowledge of the crime and were likely responsible for the crime," Simpson said.

Some of the documents proved people knew specific facts they couldn’t have unless they were involved, he added.

Recent testing showed DNA at the crime scene matched an unknown man's, not Hanline's, according to the attorney.

Still, prosecutors will decide whether to retry Hanline at a hearing scheduled for Feb. 27.

But Simpson and his team were not the only ones convinced of Hanline's innocense. His wife Sandee clutched a pair of cowboy boots while she talked with reports Monday, saying sh wanted him to have something to wear later.

"I'm just so happy it's done, over with. I just want to go home," she said.

For now, Simpson said Hanline aims to get his Social Security card, go home with his wife and go fishing — and is excited to spend Thanksgiving with  his family for the first time in over three decades.

"It feels like I'm on the front of a missile, going through space and stuff is just flying by," said Hanline.

Gordon Tokumatsu and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Ruling Shuts Down SANDAG's 40-Year Transportation Plan]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 07:00:49 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/traffic_Sandag.jpg

An appellate court on Monday upheld a lawsuit challenging how the San Diego region plans to address future transportation needs in what is largely seen as a test case for planning agencies across the state.

The three-judge panel issued a 2-1 split decision Monday finding the San Diego Association of Governments has not fully complied with state mandates in preparing its environmental impact report, thus shooting down their 40-year transportation plan.

A representative of SANDAG declined to say whether the agency would appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court, saying the agency's board would have to make that decision.

"SANDAG received the ruling Monday and is still evaluating the implications," a statement from SANDAG read. "The SANDAG Board of Directors has not yet been briefed on the ruling. It will be up to the board to assess options and decide how to respond to the court's decision."

Local transportation and planning agencies statewide have their eyes toward this lawsuit for help from the court in determining what the state legislature meant when it enacted a series of laws over the last 10 or 15 years mandating greenhouse gas level reductions.

If the ruling is upheld or the SANDAG chooses not to appeal the ruling, transportation agencies will have to look for alternatives to expanding freeways and easing traffic congestion. Not only that, but the appellate court went further than the local court to say agencies are required to look for greener alternatives to achieving transportation goals.

"What this means is: it's not enough to continue to expand freeways. It's not enough to continue to add lanes. It's not even enough to do sorts of transit projects that rely on buses," said Andrew Keatts, Voice of San Diego reporter. "What this would mean is: You need to fundamentally change the way you go about transportation planning, and even housing development as well."

For example, the $6 billion Caltrans project to widen the I-5 between La Jolla and Oceanside is the type of project that may not meet state mandates, if the appellate ruling is upheld by the California Supreme Court.

"This would say, in no uncertain terms, you need to develop dense communities that are more connected to transit and that you cannot simply allow people to continue driving their cars as their primary mode of transportation, everywhere they go,"  Keatts said.

Some examples of alternatives would include a trolley line that connects Pacific Beach to El Cajon through Mid-City neighborhoods like Kearny Mesa and Clairemont, Keatts said. And a fast track from downtown through El Cajon Boulevard and North Park out to College Area.

The $200 billion plan allocated more funds for public transit ahead of highways and local roads, but it pushed those projects to the back of the line, Keatts said.

Critics who have sued including the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club say it's not enough to spend billions expanding freeways first and then hypothetically talk about trolley lines 30 years down the road.

Marco Gonzalez, an environmental attorney representing multiple environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, said SANDAG is basically being sent back to the drawing board and needs to prioritize mass transit, something he says his group has been advocating for all along.

"But there's an arrogance to it. They really just look at us and think that we're a hindrance or a nuisance and that they know better," Gonzalez said. "You know, unfortunately, it took a lower court and now an appeals court to tell them that they are really doing it wrong, and we were right all along."

SANDAG argued that it followed the direction it received from the state for interpretation of various laws regarding greenhouse gas emissions. And today, in a statement, a spokesman for the organization said: "But in some instances that direction was ambiguous," pointing to SANDAG's role as the guinea pig  -- the first planning organization to produce an environmental review under the state's new greenhouse gas reduction laws.

<![CDATA[Many Lessons to Learn From Bernardo Fire: Report]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:03:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bernardo+fire21.JPG

This week, as Santa Ana winds bring high fire potential to the county, San Diego Fire-Rescue officials reflect and learn from a similar day in May, when those winds stoked a fire that burned 1,500 acres in North County.

The city of San Diego released its 72-page after-action report on the Bernardo Fire Monday, evaluating what went right and what sparked problems with the SDFD response on May 13, 2014.

“I would give us a good ‘B’ on this one. I think we can do even better,” said SDFD Chief Javier Mainar.

The main reason for the good grade is no homes or lives were lost over the five days it burned. The fire started off Nighthawk Lane, southwest of Rancho Bernardo.

But the report made it clear they have room for improvement, especially in training. Procedures that were fixed after the devastating 2003 and 2007 wildfires were lost when multiple firefighters retired or moved in recent years.

Because of the turnover, staff manning the department operations center had not properly trained to command such a large operation that involved multiple agencies from across Southern California, according to the report.

Mainar told NBC 7 the community emergency response team did not deploy as quickly as it should have, which was another lesson they thought they had corrected after 2007. The department also lacked medical and personal hygiene supplies and suffered communications issues when they did not have enough radios and batteries for all firefighters.

“So these are things that you've fixed along the way, sounds like low-hanging fruit, and then they pop up again when you do another review,” said Mainar.

In all, the evaluation lists 90 recommendations to improve preparedness – 35 of which Mainar says have already been completed in the SDFD.

One of the biggest changes Mainar would like to see is the addition of a third helicopter. The report said having two firefighter helicopters working the Bernardo Fire was instrumental to saving many of the homes in the area, but if one or both were forced to go down for some reason, things would have been very different.

Therefore, the SDFD hopes there is enough room in the city's 2016 budget to add another chopper so at least two will always be available for large-scale incidents.

“We’re going to have to go back to the city council and mayor and say we think it is in the region’s best interest and city’s interest to spend another $14 million to buy a third fire-rescue helicopter,” said Mainar.

The chief would also like hire more people to inspect properties regularly to ensure they have adequate defensible space. Homeowners who cleared brush near their homes made a huge difference in fighting the Bernardo Fire, the report says.

Better coordination, better air support – including night flying – and an organized, aggressive fire attack were some of the accolades included in the report.

The Bernardo Fire was the first of nine blazes to engulf in county in mid-May, forcing thousands to flee their homes. Officials later determined construction work sparked the Bernardo Fire, which scorched 1,548 acres. It was fully contained by May 17, leaving three people with minor injuries.

<![CDATA[Window Washer Who Fell 11 Stories "Fighting for His Life"]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:50:42 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SF-WINDOW-WASHER-CHOPPER-RAW-SD---14451915.jpg

The window washer who fell  about 11 stories in San Francisco last week is a "stubborn, strong man," who is "fighting for his life," according to his family.

The 58-year-old window washer, whose name has not been publicly revealed, has had several surgeries at San Francisco General Hospital and was still in critical condition on Monday, when his family issued a statement by email to the media asking that their privacy be respected.

The statement, provided by the hospital, added that the family is so grateful to everyone at the accident scene at the bottom of the Sterling Bank and Trust building in the 400 block of  Montgomery Street who assisted the window washer when he fell on Friday about 10 a.m.

"We would like to thank everyone at the scene of the accident who helped, especially the nurse who ran to him, the firefighters and the driver of the car that broke his fall," the statement read. "We are amazed that he fell from such a high distance and still survived. Landing on the car really helped, and we are so thankful for that."

The window washer, who is married and has three children, landed on top of a green Toyota Camry, driven by Mohammad Alcozai, who at first thought it was a bicyclist who accidently hit his car. Despite his own car being severely damaged from the fall, Alcozai quickly ran to the man's aid. About 20 others, including a nurse and a retired Army general, were also there helping out.

"He was shaking pretty bad. He was shaking and wasn't able to talk," Alcozai said. "He was breathing hard."

The window washer worked for Century Window Cleaners of Concord, which has been fined for safety violations in the past. A complaint from 2008 resulted in a $2,700 settlement. The state ordered the company to train and “supervise the use of equipment and safety devices to insure that safe working practices are observed.”

NBC Bay Area contacted the company for comment, but the man who answered the phone declined. The company's website states it carries a $5 million worker compensation insurance policy and a $5 million general liability insurance policy.

The fall comes about two weeks after two window washers were stranded on top of the World Trade Center in New York City. On Nov. 12, two workers were rescued in dramatic fashion after scaffolding collapsed.

Window cleaning is one of the safer industries, according to Stefan Bright, the safety director for the International Window Cleaners Association based in Zanesville, Ohio.

Among the 15,000 to 20,000 professional cleaners working on high-rises each year, there are typically fewer than three fatalities a year, he said.

While figures for window washers specifically were not available, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that seven workers in the janitorial or cleaning professions died as a result of on-the-job injuries sustained while working with scaffolding from 2011 to 2013.

NBC Bay Area's Mark Matthews and Cheryl Hurd, and NBC Universal's Noreen O'Donnell and Torey Van Oot contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area chopper]]>
<![CDATA[Airlines Offer Waivers Ahead of Thanksgiving Eve Storm]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:36:35 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/airport_generic.jpg

With snow looming in the forecast for the Northeast region of the United States, several airlines announced this week the option for their passengers to change their scheduled flights from Wednesday to Tuesday or Thanksgiving Day for free.

Travelers with American Airlines flights on Wednesday to 18 different aiports along the East Coast, including Philadelphia International and Newark Liberty International Airport, can change their tickets so they fly Tuesday or Thursday, according to a company news release.

Passengers scheduled to fly into 19 Mid-Atlantic airports -- including Philly's and Newark's -- with Delta Airlines Wednesday can also change their flight. Delta ticket-holders can rebook their Wednesday flight for Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday.

JetBlue also announced the ability to adjust one's Wednesday flight to 17 airports in the Northeast, free of charge.  JetBlue passengers can move their Thanksgiving Eve flight to Thursday or Friday.

United Airlines and US Airways also announced similar waiver deals.

Photo Credit: clipart.com]]>
<![CDATA[Campers Go Without Fires in Red Flag Conditions]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 07:14:34 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/11PMPKGSTEVENLOOKLIVE1124_1200x675_363265603695.jpg NBC 7's Steven Luke reports from Dos Picos Park near Ramona with how people are camping under the warnings issued by the National Weather Service and Cal Fire. ]]> <![CDATA[San Diego Among First to Debut "Star Wars" Trailer]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:55:01 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP670985663817.jpg

Lucky San Diegans this weekend willing to skip out on Black Friday deals can be some of the few people to catch a glimpse of the new "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" teaser trailer starting this Friday.

An 88-second teaser of the Episode VII movie will be released exclusively to select theaters, including the Edwards Mira Mesa Stadium, starting this Black Friday morning.

The Edwards Mira Mesa Stadium 18 IMAX & RPX was one of 30 theaters selected to premiere the trailer this weekend.

The J. J. Abrams movie, set to be officially released in December 2015, will have their teaser play before all movies showing in the cinema from November 28 to 30th. After that, the teaser will be shown around the world in December.

Photo Credit: Eric Jamison/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego Reacts to Ferguson Grand Jury Decision ]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 04:35:48 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/453983176.jpg

Some San Diego residents are speaking out against the grand jury decision not to indict the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who shot teenager Michael Brown to death.

The 12 grand jury members decided Monday that physical evidence showed Officer Darren Wilson should not be charged in the shooting death of 19-year-old Brown, despite witness accounts to the contrary.

"It's ridiculous to believe that someone shot someone dead — had no reason to, he was unarmed, he wasn't posing any threat — and this person is not in jail awaiting a court date," said Kathy Mendonca, who gathered with a few others in City Heights in solidarity with hundreds taking to the streets of Ferguson.

There, protests quickly devolved into violence, with people throwing rocks at police, setting cars and buildings on fire and stopping traffic on freeways.

At least three local groups told NBC 7 they plan to gather Tuesday in San Diego to show their support for Ferguson protesters. George Lewis, who was hoping to see an indictment, said the failure to indict Wilson shows the lack of law enforcement accountability. 

"Same old status quo. I mean, it's like no matter what they do, they get away with it and you don't really have any rights to stand up for yourself," said Lewis.

Resident Paul Herstein said it's a bad situation whichever way you look at it.

“Law enforcement has a terrible job in that they are trusted with life and death decisions made in a split second. It's difficult in retrospect to second guess,” said Herstein.

Another person who spoke with NBC 7 said he feels for Brown's family, but an indictment would undermine officers' rights to defend themselves.

On Aug. 9, Brown was on his way home from a convenience store with a friend when Officer Wilson shot the teenager multiple times. Brown had no criminal record, but it was later revealed that he was a suspect in a robbery allegedly committed before the shooting.

Wilson, 28, had patrolled the suburbs of St. Louis for six years, according to The Associated Press. Wilson's supporters have rallied, created Facebook pages and raised money for his family on GoFundMe.com.

The Missouri town was the location of unrest and violence following the officer-involved shooting. Police fought back with tear gas and rubber bullets, prompting questions over the intimidating presence of security forces armed with military-grade gear and equipment.

Demonstrators around the country, including in San Diego, have turned the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture into a rallying cry amid the protests.

At the City of Hope Church in Lincoln Park, churchgoers were praying for peace Sunday.

Pastor Terrell Fletcher was born in Ferguson and he views the grand jury decision as the biggest thing to happen in the lives of many young people in that community.

Fletcher said he knows all too well the racial tensions back home.

Though he comes from a law enforcement family, he knows what it's like to be mistreated by the police.

“Wasn't arrested, just embarrassed,” he recalled. “We were pushed around a little bit, we were pushed around a little bit faced down put in handcuffs put in the middle of the front lawn the whole community came out to see is be a spectacle, questioned unmercifully then threatened and sent on our way."

He's been meeting with young protesters, city leaders, law enforcement calling for calm as they brace for a decision.

The conflict has also brought attention to allegations of racial profiling in a community where 92.7 percent of those arrested in 2013 were black, when they make up 63 percent of the city's population, according to a report by the Missouri Attorney General's Office

The Ferguson Police Department has 53 officers, three of whom are black.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Victim's Family to Killer: Save Your Words]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:35:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Armando-Perez-112414.jpg

Armando Perez asked his former in-laws to forgive him Monday moments after admitting guilt in his estranged wife's brutal murder four years ago at San Diego City College.

Perez entered a change of plea, just before he was to stand trial for the stabbing of 19-year-old Diana Gonzalez, inside a campus restroom on October 12, 2010.

He turned to Gonzalez's family and asked them to forgive him, saying there should be money to help men with problems so they don't have to go through what happened here.

"I would like you to forgive me, I know it's going to be difficult, but only God knows why things happen,” Perez said.

However, the victim's sister told him to save his words.

"Honestly the little time that we knew him, we know what kind of person he is, I'm sorry but his apology to me meant nothing,” older sister Janette Gonzalez said after leaving the courtroom.

Teresa Santana, the Deputy District Attorney on the case, said on the night of the murder, Perez hid behind a tree, grabbed Gonzalez after class and viciously stabbed her in the bathroom.

After jurors were brought into the courtroom in San Diego Superior Court, Perez asked to speak with the judge.

The defendant said he would plead guilty to all charges and wanted to give the victim's family time to heal.

Judge Rogers called Perez's decision a surprise and unprecedented in his experience.

Perez said it was the "right thing to do" and that he hopes his actions help bring awareness to domestic violence.

“Whatever he does, it’s not going to bring my sister back,” Gonzalez said. “But at least we’re going to be in peace knowing he’s never come out, he’s never going to come after my family or anybody, or harm anybody else.”

As a result of his statement, Perez will be sentenced to 25 years to life. His sentencing hearing was scheduled for January 16, 2015.

"We wish we could've showed the people how bad person and monster he was but I guess this made it easier for us,” Gonzalez said.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Attorney Sentenced for Laundering Drug Money]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:40:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/james+warner.JPG

A veteran criminal defense attorney will serve three years’ probation -- including a year on house arrest-- and forfeit more than $300,000 for his role in an illegal money-laundering scheme.

James Warner represented hundreds of suspected drug dealers during his 40-year career. His colleagues once honored him as "Defense Attorney of the Year."

But Warner admitted in July that he helped a client hide drug money assets by investing $100,000 cash in an off-shore investment. Court records reveal that Warner also promised to pay the drug dealer 18 percent interest on the cash.

Investigators later found more than $200,000 cash hidden in a suitcase in Warner’s law office in the Banker’s Hill neighborhood of San Diego.

Most of that money was in a vacuum-sealed bag and was linked to drug dealers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson told NBC 7.

Warner quickly admitted to conspiracy to launder money in the scheme. He also pleaded guilty to attempting to harass a witness.

Warner was sentenced Monday by Federal Judge Jeffrey Miller. In addition to house arrest, probation and forfeiture of funds, Warner must perform 2,000 hours of community service within three years. Judge Miller said very few defendants are ordered to complete that much community service.

One of Warner’s attorneys Chuck Sevilla told the court that Warner’s criminal actions were “illegal, criminal, wrong, stupid and immoral.” But the defense reminded the judge that Warner quickly admitted his crimes when confronted with the evidence. The defense and prosecution agreed that a prison sentence would not be appropriate in this case.

Warner apologized for breaking the law and embarrassing the legal profession.

“I’ll never forgive myself,” he told the judge and a gallery filled with family, friends and other supporters, many of whom wrote letters to Judge Miller, urging leniency.

Warner also told the court, “I never considered the unbelievably dire consequences of what I've done."

He has resigned from the State Bar Association, and Judge Miller – who called it a “tragic and shameful” case -- ordered Warner not to practice law.

Warner will be allow to leave his home only for meetings with his probation officer and other necessary appointments, including visiting his wife in the hospital.

Warner’s attorneys explained that his wife of 46 years is now on life support in a local hospital after suffering from cardiac arrest during a surgical procedure.

A tearful Warner blamed himself for his wife’s medical problems, telling the judge he had ruined his life and his family’s life.

<![CDATA[Report: San Diego Needs $10 Billion in Improvements]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:47:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Construction+Sign+Generic.jpg

We now have a fair idea what the phrases “deferred maintenance” and “crumbling infrastructure” add up to when it comes to San Diego’s “public works” needs.

According to a report by Andrea Tevlin, the city’s independent budget analyst, the potential price tag for things that need to be fixed or built – “capital improvements” – could reach $10 billion.

They range from storm drains to ancient water and sewer mains that keep breaking, especially in older neighborhoods, from sketchy streets and sidewalks to substandard bridges that federal agencies say are safety hazards.

This is not to mention parks, libraries, affordable housing -- and 19 new fire stations that consultants say are absolute necessities to shorten response times.

San Diego’s Fire-Rescue Department has prioritized four that would cost $46 million.

Critics accuse San Diego of doing too little, too late, with not enough financial resources since the “Enron by the Sea” pension-debt scandal that got the city red-lined from Wall Street’s bond market for several years.

No matter what funding sources may be found “going forward”, even if the money is distributed equally among council districts, south-of-Instate 8 communities such as City Heights already are on such a tilted playing field when it comes to "infrastructure" that they never catch up.

Inner-city folks who spoke with NBC 7 Monday see a lot of pain coming to their pocketbooks for the city to cover the 11-figure projected costs.

"That's a lot of money, and I doubt they will,” said City Heights resident Kellie Burris. “Or they're going to starting raising up everything on people that can't afford it. This is like a low-income area, but still we deserve to have other things."

To bankroll infrastructure upgrades and required affordable housing, city officials are looking at raising taxes and fees and adding three new fee categories -- along with special bonds requiring two-thirds voter approval, and financing districts that could generate spending by way of loans.

"I think we've borrowed enough,” said Monique Fernandes, as she and her daughter enjoyed a morning outing in City Heights’ spacious Teralta Park. “I think we need to start raising money without borrowing any more. Because we owe as it is."

As for the disparities between infrastructure and facilities in City Heights versus those in northern-tier city neighborhoods, Oscar Jenks was troubled: "Seems like they fix everything right over there, but here they do it ‘Mickey Mouse.' They do it and just go. They need to focus and get it right. We're not asking much, you know? Just treat us the same as everybody else."

Added Al Rasuwl: "They should take care of the older neighborhoods first -- because there's a lot of senior citizens, there's a lot of special needs children there.”

The budget report doesn't address the issue of building a new stadium, but it notes that deferred maintenance at Qualcomm Stadium is $80 million.

At the Convention Center, the backlog is estimated at $31 million.

Expanding the place will cost half a billion dollars in front-money.

Plus interest.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Mother of the Year" Pleads Guilty to Felony Stalking]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:56:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/court-shutterstock_8119101411.jpg

A former "Mother of the Year" recipient pleaded guilty to felony stalking in a downtown courtroom Monday.

The crime carries a punishment of up to three years in prison.

Kathy Rowe, 53, was also charged with one count of felony solicitation for rape, one count of felony solicitation for sodomy and misdemeanor charges of identity theft and making annoying or threatening communication after she posted an online advertisement inviting men to a victim's home to rape her, according to the prosecution.

Deputy District Attorney Brendan McHugh said those chargers were dismissed with Rowe's plea.

A felony complaint filed against Rowe earlier this year explained how her anger and jealousy over the sale of a home she wanted to buy in the Carmel Valley area prompted her outrageous behavior.

WARNING - Graphic Content: Read the full complaint against Rowe

In addition to the online ad, Rowe allegedly put a stop on the victim's mail, had unusual magazines and mailers sent to the home and sent Valentine's Day cards to female neighbors in the victim's husband's name.

Rowe - a former county employee - told detectives that she posted the ad as a "prank" and did not intend to harm the victim, defense attorney Brad Patton said.

Prosecutors argued because two men who answered the ad actually showed up to the victim's home, Rowe crossed a line.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 9.

Rowe was named one of "San Diego's 50 Best Moms" in 2006 in a contest sponsored by Time Warner Cable, according to the UT San Diego.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Protests Erupt After Ferguson Grand Jury Decision]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:56:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP606310022258.jpg

Violent protests and acts of civil disobedience - from car burnings to marches on highways - broke out in several U.S. cities overnight after a grand jury decided against indicting a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

The grand jury's decision was announced by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch more than three months after Wilson killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in a sharply disputed encounter in the St. Louis suburb.

Riots, looting, fires and gunshots erupted in Ferguson -- the community first rocked by the Aug. 9 shooting -- shortly after the decision was announced. Protesters hurled bottles at officers near police headquarters, and flames engulfed at least a dozen businesses.  St. Louis County police deployed tactical units and fired tear gas and smoke to break up unruly crowds. 

At least 150 gunshots were fired and a semi-automatic handgun was seized, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference early Tuesday. 

Police released records early Tuesday showing 61 people were arrested in Ferguson on charges that included burglary and trespassing, The Associated Press reported. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said early Tuesday that 21 were arrested in the city.

"I'm disappointed I didn't see more peaceful protests out there," Belmar said. "What I've seen tonight is probably worse than the worst night we had in August."

Across the country, reaction ranged from marches that threatened to shut down busy streets to gatherings near national landmarks. Most remained peaceful, officials said.

In California, a large crowd marched through the streets of Oakland, and protesters shut down Interstate 580. A bank window was broken and several people were arrested, The Associated Press reported.

Crowds in Los Angeles blocked traffic and stopped traffic briefly on the 10 Freeway. The USC campus was placed on lockdown as demonstrators marched by.

In Philadelphia, angry protesters took to the streets after the announcement, chanting "No Justice. No Peace. No Racist Police," and holding both arms in the air. Albeit loud in voice, they remained peaceful in actions as police trailed their march.

A man was arrested after hurling fake blood on NYPD Chief Bill Bratton in New York's Times Square during a demonstration. Hundreds marched from Union Square to Upper Manhattan through traffic-clogged streets, with signs such as "Jail killer cops."

At the Chicago police department's headquarters, several hundred people chanted "This is what democracy looks like," and carried photographs of those they said were killed by officers.

Outside the White House, roughly 300 gathered for a peaceful demonstration, chanting "black lives matter." Some carried signs urging the demilitarization of police.

Officials and lawyers for Brown's family had appealed for calm. At a press conference before the announcement, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley had said, "I want people to think with their heads and not with emotion."

"I do not want people in this community to think they have to barricade their doors and take up arms," he said. "We are not that kind of a community."

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called for protecting lives, property and free speech, but fearful that protests would turn violent -- as sometimes occurred during the tense days after the shooting -- schools closed and shop owners boarded up stores.

The Missouri grand jury considered everything from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter to no charge against Wilson.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA["Serious" Santa Ana Arrives in San Diego]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:40:30 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/red-flag-warning-generic-20.jpg

Strong winds and low humidity forecasted for this week means San Diego County is at an increased risk of wildfires.

"It is going to be a pretty serious Santa Ana event," said NBC 7 Meteorologist Jodi Kodesh. "The biggest that we've had since May." 

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a red flag warning for the mountains and inland valleys from 4 a.m. Monday to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

A high wind warning was also in effect with the strongest winds expected Tuesday.

"We're looking at a very serious Tuesday," Kodesh said.

Cal Fire spokesperson Capt. Kendal Bortisser said the agency is fully staffed with 26 engines covered at all 18 stations.

There is also aircraft available to fly if needed.

Humidity levels were in the 20s and 30s, considered less than half the amount of moisture normally in the air around the county at this time of the year, she added.

Because of the potentially dangerous conditions, San Diego County officials have issued a fire ban for the following parks: William Heise, Volcan Mtn., Santa Ysabel, Mt Gower, Simon, Barnett Ranch,  Dos Picos, Collier, Louis Stelzer, El Monte, Lindo Lake, Flinn Springs, Jess Martin, Lake Morena, Potrero, Vallecito, Agua Caliente, Pine Valley, Santa Margarita, Live Oak, San Dieguito, Guajome Regional, Otay Lakes and Sweetwater Regional.

The ban means campfires and open flames are not allowed within the park. However, visitors can still use propane barbecues.

In Malibu, strong winds pushed six kayakers about a mile out to sea and had to be rescued Sunday. A group of squid fishing boats came to their rescue. No one was injured. 

Sunday afternoon, crews battled a small brush fire at the Thousand Trails Pio Pico campground in Jamul. Cal Fire first reported the wildfire around 1:20 p.m.

Firefighters stopped the spread of the fire about 20 minutes later, according to Cal Fire. The blaze burned about one acre of land.

No structures were threatened by the fire, and there is no word what sparked it.

Winds pushed a house fire on Deluz Road in Fallbrook into surrounding brush Sunday night. No one was seriously injured.

A new online tool provided by the U.S. Forest Service, SDG&E and UCLA suggests the risk of a wildfire from this Santa Ana wind event will be marginal in San Diego on Monday and Wednesday.

That threat grows to moderate on Tuesday meaning upon ignition, fires will grow rapidly and will be difficult to control.

The Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index, a classification system that analyzes the fire threat potential of the powerful Santa Ana winds, was rolled out in September to help homeowners and fire officials prepare.

San Diego County officials urge residents to download the free emergency smart phone application SDEmergency and follow three key steps.

GET READY: Do your 100-foot defensible space in advance
GET SET: Have an emergency plan. Pack your car when Santa Anas arrive.
GO: When told to leave, leave.

It’s a good reminder this holiday week to be extra safe outdoors, Bortisser said.

<![CDATA[Sexual Assault Reported at SDSU]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:46:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDSU-generic-night-0404.jpg

Police are investigating a reported sexual assault on the San Diego State University campus Sunday night.

A female student reported being sexually assaulted between 10:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. while attending a party on Hardy Avenue near 55th Street, police said.

Police described the suspect as an adult male approximately 6 feet tall with brown hair. He was wearing dress slacks with no shirt.

No arrests have been made. Anyone with information about the incident should call police at (619) 594-1991 or by sending an e-mail to police@mail.sdsu.edu.

The report comes as SDSU police also investigate a reported kidnapping where a group of people tried to pull a student into a car after stealing her cell phone near the athletic complex on campus.

This is the seventh reported sexual assault since the start of the year.

A victim reported a sexual assault on October 27 on 55th Street just north of Viejas Arena.

On September 22, a female student reported an assault that happened the afternoon before in student housing.

A female student was reportedly assaulted Sept. 6 at the campus-owned Granada Apartments by a man whom she said tried to befriend her as she was walking home.

On Labor Day, another SDSU student said she was sexually assaulted in a bathroom at an off-campus house party near College Place and College Avenue.

<![CDATA[1 Dead, 30 Hurt in Calif. Bus Crash]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 04:22:46 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/141123-norcal-bus-crash.jpg

California Highway Patrol officials have identified the driver of a charter bus that rolled off the 5 Freeway in Northern California on Sunday, killing a passenger and sending 30 more to hospitals.

The bus was traveling from Los Angeles to Pasco, Washington when it ran off the highway in northern Shasta County about 7:40 a.m. and overturned on an embankment, landing wheels up on a side street, CHP officials said.

The driver was identified as 67-year-old Jose Victor Garcilazo Palencia of Los Angeles. He voluntarily went into CHP headquarters for questioning, according to NBC affiliate KNVN. CHP officers say the driver showed signs of fatigue.

All but one of the other 32 people aboard were taken to hospitals in Redding and Mount Shasta, investigators said.

Most had minor injuries and were treated and released. Two patients were in critical condition and three more were in serious condition at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, where most of the patients were taken, hospital spokeswoman Heather Nichols told the Associated Press.

The 33-year-old man who died has not been identified. Investigators said he was a resident of Parlier, a small community in Fresno County.

Earlier Sunday morning during the same trip, the bus had been involved in a minor crash when it struck a Denny's in Red Bluff, CHP officials said. No injuries were reported in the collision, but the building's roof was damaged.

Photos of the all-white bus, a 1996 Vanhool, showed no large logos, but a sign on the door said the bus belonged to a company called Transporters Yellow Arrow.

The bus departed from Huntington Park on Saturday night.

The bus operator, Yellow Arrow LLC, is based in Othello, Washington. It has a current license and before Sunday had no reported accidents in the past two years, according to federal records. It appears to be related to a Mexican bus line.

Families of victims in the crash said they had never heard of Yellow Arrow.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Alayna Shulman/Redding Record Searchlight]]>
<![CDATA[Child Care Wages Fail to Reflect Costs: Report]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:34:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/0520-daycare_generic.jpg

While child care costs increase, worker wages fail to reflect inflation, a new report finds.

The study released last week by the Center for Child Care Employment at University of California, Berkeley outlines wage differences for day care, preschool and kindergarten teachers, showing only a small increase since 1997.

The Childhood Workforce 25 Years After the National Staffing Study examined wage increases compared to inflation in the U.S. from 1997 to 2013, as well as the number of child care provider families receiving public assistance.

While California ranks one of the highest paid on the list, child care providers for children under preschool age made a mean income of $7.76 hourly in 1997, which, adjusting for inflation, would equal $11.26 in 2013 dollars. The actual mean income in 2013 for those workers was $11.86 - only a $.60 increase.

Of the 87,000 child care workers in the state last year, 46 percent of those are in families receiving at least one of four forms of public assistance. Those support programs include Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Staff turnover rates have increased while the quality of care has gone down, the center reports.

The organization is calling for public funding to provide higher wages, regionally-based entry level wages, salary increases by education level and training, professional workplace standards and any providers receiving public funding to meet the same compensation guidelines and work standards.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Decision Reached in Karate Teacher Molestation Case]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:58:42 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/juan+flores+11242014.jpg

After almost one week of deliberation, the jury has returned a verdict on a popular former karate instructor accused of child molestation.

On Monday, a jury found Juan Melesio Flores, 39, guilty of oral copulation with a minor. However, jurors were deadlocked on the remaining 16 charges, and the judge has declared a mistrial on those counts. 

Flores was taken into custody and is being held without bond.

The co-owner and lead instructor at Z-Ultimate Studio in Tierrasanta was charged with more than a dozen felony counts, including oral copulation and lewd acts with a child. Prosecutors said the abuse, which allegedly involved two teenage boys, took place between 2012 and Dec. 2013 at the studio, or dojo.

Flores was arrested last December. The two teens testified against him at a preliminary hearing in February.

Flores took the stand in his own defense on Nov. 17. He admitted to touching students’ buttocks and telling a student to take a picture in the shower, but insisted it was just a joke and never sexual in nature.

The jury started deliberating after closing arguments on Nov. 18. The defense argued Flores was a mentor and friend, not a villain, and that the victims’ testimonies weren’t consistent.

“Members of the jury, be very careful because the power and influence of a child molest accusation is immense,” said defense attorney Damian Lowe during closing statements.

But the prosecution said Flores exploited his students, pointing to DNA evidence.

“Child molestation doesn’t happen in front of the cameras. It doesn’t happen in crowds, in front of the courthouse or the middle of the mall,” said Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick. “It happens in the same way it happened in this case, beyond closed doors.”

Flores is due back in court Dec. 8.

<![CDATA[Hundreds Of Illegal Animals, Furs, Skins Seized At Border]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 07:45:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/10634112_10152860962054609_2898114075771530893_o.jpg

Every day, hundreds of customs and border agents patrol the U.S.-Mexico border crossings are looking for illegal drugs, weapons and undocumented immigrants.

Working side by side with border agents is Lockett, an English lab, and her handler, Ray Hernandez, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife inspector. Together, they're searching for a different kind of smuggler.

“A lot of snake skins are used in fashion accessories: Shoes, handbags, wallets, belts,” Hernandez said.

Smugglers are bringing animal furs and skins from the world's deserts, oceans and rain forests. The items are sometimes worth just a few dollars in their native lands, but can sell for hundreds, even tens of thousands of dollars, in the U.S. and other wealthy nations.

Fish and Wildlife Supervisor Mike Osborn said, "The problem is, too many snakes have been taken for that trade. So we don't see the big snakes anymore. They're gone."

Osborn showed NBC 7 the costly keepsakes made from endangered and protected species. They are smuggled through border crossings from San Ysidro and Otay Mesa to Arizona.

"So any part or product of an endangered species is not allowed to be brought into the United States, period. Whether it's a coat, whether it's a handbag made from endangered crocodile, whether it's a skin, whether it's a live animal," Osborn said.

NBC 7 Investigates obtained detailed information about the items Fish and Wildlife inspectors, with help from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, are finding at local ports of entry.

In the past five years, there have been more than 600 seizures, including:

  • Sea turtles which are poached for their meat and skin
  • Sea cucumbers which are a delicacy in some cultures, but endangered
  • Iguana skins
  • Whale bones
  • Coral
  • Dolphins
  • Sea shells

"It's usually declared as toys or computer parts or hangers or something like that,” Hernandez said. “And when she (Lockett) alerts, I go and open the box, and lo and behold, it's a pair of python skin shoes or a handbag or crocodile or something like that.”

Lockett was first trained to detect five endangered species: Elephant, rhinoceros, sea turtle, sea horse and python skin. She's learned dozens more, including snake and lizard skin, elk and deer horn, tigers and lions.

Some smugglers use floor mats to conceal illegal items, including 27 swim bladders from Mexico's endangered Totoaba fish. An inspector at the Calexico border uncovered those just that last year. A search of the suspect's home, Song Shen Zhen, uncovered another 200 bladders.

The fish bladders are highly prized in Asia. They are used as an ingredient in soup and used as a medicine. Experts say the bladders sell for $1,500 each in Mexico and up $20,000 each in Asia.

It’s estimated the black market value of the bladders smuggled by Zhen is $3.6 million.

Zhen pleaded guilty to a single count of smuggling and unlawful trade in wildlife in August. He served a brief term in federal jail and is now on supervised release. He was ordered to pay back more than $120,000 in restitution.

Other cases involving illegal smuggling include:

  • In May, a San Diego man was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine after he pleaded guilty to selling the endangered Asian arowana fish online. 
  • In March, a man was ordered to pay $500,000 in restitution to the Mexican government after he pleaded guilty in June 2013 to conspiring to smuggle totoaba fish bladders.
  • In 2011, Nathan Lee pleaded guilty to illegally fishing in Mexican waters for albacore tuna and returning to the U.S. with the fish aboard. 

Border agents said many of the seizures are made at the pedestrian crossings, from tourists returning home with a pair of boots, a handbag or wallet made from a threatened or endangered animal.

Fish and Wildlife tells NBC 7 Investigates those tourists often have no idea they've broken the law. They are not charged with crime but must surrender the illegal items.

Once U.S. Fish and Wildlife has received abandonment or forfeiture of the property seized, they donate or loan the items for scientific, educational or public display purposes.

Live evidence is donated to zoos and aquariums. Most wildlife products seized are sent to the National Wildlife Property Repository located in Commerce City, Colorado near Denver. From there, many of the items are donated to educational facilities, non-profit organizations and conservation agencies to aid in teaching about endangered species and other wildlife.

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<![CDATA[K-9 Wounded After Search for Gunman in Fatal Shooting ]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:44:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/11-24-2014-dog-reiko-west-convina-shooting.jpg

A man who opened fire on a police dog after jumping from the roof of a home was shot and killed by police after a search for a gunman involved in a nearby fatal shooting outside a church.

The officer-involved shooting was reported at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday in the 1500 block of East Elgnenia Street in West Covina. At least one West Covina officer was involved in the shooting.

The dog, a Belgian Malinois, underwent surgery Monday morning and was expected to make a full recovery, according to the West Covina Police Department.

The shooting occurred just minutes after the discovery of a shooting victim on lawn outside a church. The victim died at the scene.

"Limited" information was available regarding the shooting and reports of an argument between the two men, police said.

"It was right in front of the church," said Cpl. Rudy Lopez. "The witness was able to provide us with the direction and a description."

Authorities are attempting to determine whether a Yellow taxi cab parked outside the church was connected to the shooting. The cab was towed from the scene.

The taxi cab company confirmed that the driver was not injured.

Witnesses told police they heard gunfire and saw a man running from the scene. Authorities towed a Yellow taxi cab from the scene of the church shooting, but it was not immediatley clear whether the vehicle is part of the investigation.

The gunman jumped from the roof onto a driveway and opened fire as a K-9 handler released the police dog, which was struck by one round. 

The 2-year-old dog, Reiko, has been with the department since 2013.

"He's done a magnificent job," said Lopez. "He's just one of those kinds of dogs that's got the drive that does the job. His handler is an excellent handler and they make a great team, and that's why I'm sure he's taking it as hard as he is because of that relationship.

"They are officers. They're treated as such. When you've injured a K-9, you've basically injured an officer."

Reiko is one of the dogs assigned to the department. The department is attempting to acquire protective body armor for the K-9 unit, Lopez said.

Photo Credit: Friends of West Covina PD K-9
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<![CDATA[Driver Takes Rooftop Water Break After 100-MPH Pursuit]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:25:43 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/216*120/11-24-2014-water-break-pursuit-culver-city.jpg

The driver of an SUV who led police on a 30-mile pursuit at speeds over 100 mph held police in a standoff for hours Monday on the rooftop of a Culver City apartment complex before surrendering.

The pursuit began about midday with a report of a possible drive-by shooting in Newhall and ended about 5 p.m. at an apartment complex in the 9600 block of Lucerne Avenue in Culver City.

The driver led police on a dangerous chase — driving on the wrong side of streets and narrowly missing pedestrians in crosswalks — before ditching the SUV in a cul-de-sac and running.

He managed to get onto a rooftop, walked around and even took drinks from a water supply pipe.

The man then wedged a board against a rooftop access door and placed cinder blocks in front of it to prevent it from opening.

Residents in the Culver City neighborhood were told by police to stay away.

"We had to leave the building because someone entered with a gun," said one woman who couldn't enter her home for hours.

Another resident said he wasn't aware of the situation until he saw it on TV, and then went out and saw. 

Neighbors moved as quickly as they could, knowing the man could be armed.

"I saw him actually coming over the fence right in front of my window," Tom Mawson told NBC4.

The driver had been on the Antelope Valley (14) and Golden State (5) freeways at midday and nearly clipped several vehicles at speeds around 100 mph.

Aerial video showed the driver swerving across lanes and driving on the shoulder of the southbound 5 Freeway before transitioning on the southbound 170 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley.

The driver then got off onto Vermont Avenue in the Hollywood area, speeding the wrong way on several busy streets and narrowly missing pedestrians and vehicles at intersections.

At 1:20 p.m., the driver reversed into a covered parking area before exiting back onto the street in front of a Los Angeles Police Department patrol vehicle.

The pursuit continued west on streets bordering the 10 Freeway and into Culver City.

John Cádiz Klemack contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Lindbergh Field Among Least Frustrating Airports]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:21:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Airport-Meditation-Room-5.jpg

San Diegans heading to the airport this holiday week can fly out assured that their experience will be one of the best in the U.S. and Canada.

The San Diego International Airport, known by locals as Lindbergh Field, ranked as the tenth least frustrating airport on Bloomberg Businessweek’s Airport Frustration Index.

On a scale from one to 100, the airport received a 38.1 frustration score, taking into account the overall experience, commute time, ease of security, the quality of terminals and restrooms, amenities, and how often flights take off on time.

The index took into account late or canceled flights, long lines, crowded terminals, and overpriced or appalling food. The survey analyzed more than 3,000 frequent flyers to find the most- and least-irritating places to catch a plane in the U.S. and Canada.

The airport also received high marks for its security clearance time, restrooms and shopping options.

On a scale from zero to 10, where zero is the worst and 10 is the best, the airport received a score of 7.2 for its security, 7.5 for its restrooms, and 6.1 for its shopping.

Flights departing from San Diego International Airport left on time 77 percent of the time, the 18th best in the bunch.

The ranking comes after the airport underwent a series of upgrades to their facilities, including adding its first-ever meditation room post-security in Terminal 2.

Many of the expansions in the past several years were a part of The Green Build, a $1 billion project set to expand Terminal 2 with 10 new gates, a duel-level roadway and additional parking and security lanes. The improvements include more concession stands and dining options.

The airport was also the first to become the first airport in the nation to have a formal sustainability policy where tons of food is recycled each month, including a quarter of coffee grounds.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>